Diakonia, (διακονία, Greek transliteration diakonia) means service, to serve, to render selfless service unto. Can refer to helps and service of various kinds which can range in meaning from spiritual biblical teaching (Ac 6:4) to the practical giving of provisions, supplies, support, and finances to those in need (2 Co 9:12.)

Prodicus, a Fifth Century B.C. Greek sophist and rhetorician, from the island of Ceos, is credited with being the first to say that service to others was the highest calling. Those words have been much quoted in every walk of life. Walter Reuther,is often remembered as the most accomplished leader in the history of the American labor movement. A man of character, resolve and boundless energy expounded on the thought by saying, “There is no greater calling then to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well.”

We as believers, when asked about service, immediately go to Matthew 20:28, “...just as the son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And then to John 13:1-17 when our Lord washes the feet of the disciples which epitomizes service.Paul called himself a bondservant of Christ. Truly, he picked up his cross and followed after our Lord, Jesus Christ. I prayerfully hope to hear those words one day when our Lord says, “well done, good and faithful servant.” How we serve and the heart we serve with means everything. The absolute joy I feel through performing these small acts of service I am blessed to be a part of has no equal. Each person has their motivation for ministry and reason for service which they find in the work God has asked of us and exampled to us through his son.I say, Here I am, use me!

We are starting a new feature to the newsletter which is recognizing a non-profit each month with an article and link to their website. The inaugural non-profit is Arizona Youth Partnership, https://azyp.org. Laura Pedersen was kind enough to submit an article about her organization which I think you’ll see is not only praiseworthy but vital to the Tucson Community. Please take the time to read her introduction to this critical and important organization as they work toward serving the adolescent population.

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Arizona Youth Partnership’s mission is to build solid foundations for youth and families by partnering with Arizona communities to prevent and solve local issues such as substance abuse, youth homelessness, lack of educational opportunities, teen pregnancy, and challenging family dynamics.

Established in 1990 to serve and support adolescents and their families in the Tucson metro area, AZYP has grown into a statewide non-profit agency serving families in 11Arizona counties. In Pima County, we offer healthy relationship and life skills programming in many local school districts and at various community locations; a drug diversion program called Wake Up!; and programming to educate and support pregnant and parenting adolescents. This program, called Starting Out Right (SOR), also includes services for pregnant and parenting adolescents who are experiencing homelessness.

The following is the story of one of our current Starting Out Right participants.

Jackie had dropped out of school in the middle of her junior year. Problems at home made studying and keeping a job and not knowing what each day at home would bring brought additional stress. Jackie was able move into her boyfriend’s home and settle into a new routine with his family, although at times,things got heated. When Jackie was 18years old, she found out she was pregnant. Unfortunately,her boyfriend wanted nothing to do with the baby, and his family was angry at them for becoming pregnant. With nowhere to go, Jackie went to her parents, who were not willing to help care for her or her soon to be born baby. Finding temporary housing with a relative, Jackie was able to continue working and preparing for the arrival of her baby. Everything was going great until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020. Jackie lost her job, and the relative with which she was living was unable to make an income or receive unemployment. Tensions became high as the crisis stretched from weeks to months, and Jackie began to fear for her safety as the home environment became less and less stable. Facing uncertainty and homelessness, she found her way to the Starting Out Right program. Jackie,and her daughter, now 9 months old, were recently placed in a volunteer host home and they are thriving with the support of their AZYP case manager and host family. Jackie is now working on her GED, she has established new employment, and she has hope for a brighter future.Jackie’s case manager from Arizona Youth Partnership added,“the opportunity to live in a safe, stable environment will give Jackie and her daughter a chance to focus on improving her life; and her positive attitude will help her achieve her goals and provide for her daughter”.

There are many needs in our community. The Starting Out Right Homeless Parenting Youth Program (SOR HPYP)is a tangible way to support those in need during a difficult time. SOR HPYP’s host home opportunity is an innovative solution to the housing crisis many pregnant and parenting adolescent are facing in our community. Host Home volunteers can help address this crisis by welcoming young families into their home while they take steps towards independence. Caring adults with an extra bedroom can be the difference in a young family’s life. Host Home volunteers are trained and supported to provide a stable, transitional living arrangement for single pregnant or parenting adolescent and their child. Participants receive in-home case management and educational services from our case managers, including guidance to reach their goals while living in a stable environment. Participant sup through age 21 can receive the program services and can remain in the host home for up to18 months.

For more information on how you can become a host family to provide safe housing and support to a young family as they work toward becoming stable and self-sufficient, please contact us at sor@azyp.orgor visit our website at https://azyp.org/program/hpyp/.

Laura Pedersen 520-719-2014 (office) 520-360-9929 (cell)

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